Thursday I had the great privilege of seeing one of my favorite musicians, Mat Kearney, live at the Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University in DC. The show was spectacular like I knew it would be. If you’re not familiar with Mat’s music…you need to be. Go YouTube it right now; better yet, just buy his albums outright, you’ll thank me.
I danced, sang, and cried the entire concert because I was so happy. I’m forever indebted to my friends who introduced me to this music. I like a lot of music; I love and feel personally connected to few songs. Yet in my short life, many of those songs have been Mat Kearney’s. Like Mumford and Sons, Boston, Josh Groban- to name a few others- this is good, quality music. You can’t just listen to this music; experience it, feel it, breathe it in. Without fear of sounding batty because it’s just true- listening to music can be a legit spiritual experience when it speaks to your soul and seems to recognize your very existence.
So the concert was amazing. But my favorite part of the night was something a little better, namely, shaking hands with Mat himself on the street.
Imagine this: my Thursday had been long. The metro rides were crowded, I worked all day, my papercut hands and blistered feet were just annoying, and I was starving. Waking up that day to see Mat Kearney was my only consolation to a twitching eye from lack of sleep.
It was a few hours before the concert. I got to GW early, waiting on my mom and friend, Kelliann, to take the metro into town after work as well. I had an hour to kill, so I bundled up and started wandering, looking for a place to eat a few blocks from the concert hall. As I got off the metro, I remember thinking to myself, “Mat seems so cool and down to earth. I bet he’s wandering around the city, too, with a coffee or something, like a normal person.” I hastily shook any ideas of meeting him out of my head; but secretly, deep in my heart, I wished it. It would be so cool to say, “Your music really helps a lot of people. It helps me believe in God and in humanity. I’m really glad you’re alive, Mat Kearney, and I hope you have an awesome life.” You know… if I ever had the chance, that’s what I would say.
So I walked and walked. Took in the university, a part of town I had never seen; smiled at an old couple holding hands, exchanging a sweet little kiss as we waited to cross the street; and wandered alone for a good thirty minutes. I thought of my friends in Florida and how much I miss them. I thought about my broken heart and wondered if it would always be like this. I thought about how much God loves me and how I rarely see it because I’m such a brat.
And as I turned around to head back to the metro, a sudden and deep sadness came over me in a striking pang. The kind that hurts and takes your breath away, and the more you’re annoyed with your own weakness, the more it hurts. So many of the things I don’t understand just welled up inside me at once. I felt like a foreigner in this town that’s supposed to feel like home; I felt too cold for my heart to breathe; in some strange way, I simply felt alone.
Just then, as I fought back tears, hands shoved in my pockets, looking at the ground, I noticed a group of men approaching on the sidewalk. I looked up to see the best way to get around them…and, let’s be real, what girl doesn't look up at a group of men walking by, and suddenly, as if I were dreaming, Mat Kearney and his band appeared, in one large wave, coming straight at me.
Now, I’m a pretty confident woman. I can hardly remember a time I didn't know what to say or was too nervous to speak, but this moment, of sheer joy and surprise, hit me so hard in such contrast to my previous moment, I could barely stand.
Everything happened in about 15 seconds. They approached, I stood like a brick wall, grinning from ear to ear like a huge idiot on the sidewalk. He was just like I thought he would be- confident, cool, normal looking. I assumed they were looking for some eats before the show.
It happened so fast that all of this is blurry. I approached, muttering something like, “Mat! Oh my gosh, I’m so excited for the show, I can’t wait to hear you guys. You’re so great, I just love you, my name is Amanda, I’m so happy.”
The poor guy was on the phone, on his way to enjoy the few precious minutes of his free time. I remember wondering if he was on the phone with his wife and just feeling so happy- I wish I could have screamed out that I love her too, and I’m so thankful she’s alive for him to love- because the songs he writes about her are so wonderful. I could feel myself freezing up, just smiling like a crazy person and trying to process such an innocent moment of pure joy. I could feel his band members looking at me, probably laughing, but I honestly didn't even care.
He was so kind, to pause a minute and shake my hand. I extended my blue fuzzy mitten to shake the hand of such a talented man. I said, “My name’s Amanda”, and he smiled. And for me that was enough.
I stepped aside, dazed, and ushered them to continue on- “You’re probably eating or something, I’m sorry, please enjoy your time before the show, I can’t wait,” I said, and he turned to wave goodbye.
Then I stood there for a whole minute, just smiling and crying, taking in the feeling that for me, felt like love. Love for Mat Kearney, yes, but mostly for God. Mat’s music is awesome and he’s awesome- evident in his extreme kindness toward speechless fans- but I wasn't speechless because I love Mat Kearney- I was speechless because meeting him wasn't an accident. I often feel like a lucky person, when in reality I’m just very loved by God and every once in a while, when I doubt Him, His gestures are pretty grand.
I didn't say ANY of the things I wish I had said, but that’s okay. The crowd showed him the love he deserves and he must know how much his music means to people. He said at the concert that his music is his way of processing his life- how he makes sense of it all- and I laughed thinking, wow, it’s how I process a lot, too.
So Mat, if by chance you’re reading this because I’m totally tagging you on FaceBook and Twitter, thanks for being so nice to that girl on the sidewalk. I’m not some crazy groupie- but meeting you felt like seeing an old friend for the first time in a long time, and I was struck down by the wonders of this crazy life. It may have meant meeting another fan to you, but it meant a lot to me. I’m so very grateful for your work, and that you share your heart with so many. I pray your life is everything you want it to be, and for your family. My father was in the Air Force and he was gone a lot of my childhood; your life on the road must not be easy- know it is appreciated.
Your music sets the bar for what we expect out of life: friendships worth dying for; love worth fighting for; joy worth working for. Thank you. Some of my friends love your music so much, they pray for a spot next to you in Heaven so we can hear you sing forever. So keep it real, man, and don't let Hollywood take anything from you.
(For my dream life I'm saving money to hire you for my wedding music. I will save A LOT and plan around your tour. It will be the best wedding ever, and everyone will be watching you so me and my husband can leave the reception early, thank God. You'll hear from me in 5-7 years.)
So my friends, when you think He’s not listening- He really, really is. This was the equivalent of a million roses and chocolate for a year- but hey- I’ll take it. When a man loves a woman, he gets to know her heart.
(My favorite Mat Kearney songs include: Crashing Down, Fire and Rain, Hey Mama, Ships in the Night, Here We Go, She Got the Honey, Runaway, Young Dumb and in Love. Enjoy.)